For author Renee' Carter Tench, April 17, 2008, was the first day of the rest of her life. It was the day she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Tench spent more and more time reflecting on her past experiences and examining her life. In Memoirs of a Bootlegger's Daughter, she tries to understand the reason and purpose behind all of the chaos in growing up the child of alcoholic parents.
The lone survivor of the Carter family who lived at the end of the dirt road in Hickory, North Carolina, Tench shares the stories of her tumultuous childhood. She tells how, by the grace of God and taking advantage of the opportunities He provided, she broke the cycle of alcoholism in her family, a cycle that began even before her grandfather and father became bootleggers. She often felt looked down on because of the spectacle she and her family often made.
Memoirs of a Bootlegger's Daughter narrates how Tench started out at the end of one dirt road and ended up at the end of another and the wild journey in between, a journey she would be happy to take again.
When they were first married, Daddy was still selling liquor for a living. Momma set out right away to try and put a stop to that. Daddy really hadn't ever done any legitimate type jobs, so it was not as easy a transition as one might think it to be. He also fought it tooth and nail. In fact, he decided that it might actually be easier to just pretend to have a legitimate job. As long as Momma saw him bring home some money, he figured he could pull it off.
Daddy decided to tell Momma that he was working at one of the knitting mills there in town. He would leave home early in the morning and would come home soon after the whistles would blow all over town announcing the end of first shift. As a special added touch of genius, Daddy would pull cotton out of his socks and would put it in his hair so that he would look the part. A lint-head sure couldn't come home without the lint in his hair. I am not sure how long this charade went on but after some time, as is his way, Daddy messed it all up.
Momma claimed to have no idea that he had been lying to her, and was completely shocked one afternoon when she heard sirens going by the trailer. She had heard them go by multiple times and finally decided to go to the window to see what in the world was going on. Well, when she looked out the window, there was my daddy waving at her with a whole string of police on his tail! He had been looping around so many times hoping that she would come out and see him so that she would be ready with bail money when it was all over. Unfortunately for him, it wouldn't be that simple.
Renee' Carter Tench lives with her husband Roger on Bill's Mountain in Lake Lure, North Carolina. Married thirty-four years, they are both retired and enjoy traveling and taking care of the forest animals around their little cabin in the woods.
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